{Travel} NYC Pay to Play

Friday, September 19, 2014

No, not the political corruption, pay-to-play, the actual pay the fee in order to play.

I'm back tonight with my last installment on my recent trip to New York City. It has been so much fun to look at all of the pictures I took (over 200) and decide which ones really "tell" the story of our vacation. I started off sharing about our neighborhood, the Upper West Side, then shared with you all of the free things we did and saw, and today I'm going to wrap up with sharing the things we paid for and if we were happy with the money we spent.

I should note, that we splurged on a few meals, but neither Morgan or I really felt that any of the food we ate was something that we would have to have on a future visit. I don't know if we just missed all the good stuff or what...

A tip about spending money on things to see - sign up for Living Social and Groupon (in the location of New York City) about six weeks before your trip. You can purchase reduced price admission to museums, tours, and restaurants. It's a great tip I've used for a few trips now.

First up, the things were were happy we spent money on.

Top of the Rock








Top of the Rock is the trip to the observation deck of the Rockefeller Center. The other option is to visit the observation deck of the Empire State Building (which is sometimes offered in a package deal on Groupon), but all of the reviews we read online said Top of the Rock was a better view and experience.

I am so glad we paid to do this. At Morgan's request, we purchased tickets right at dusk, about 7:30, and it was great to see the last of the setting sun turn into complete darkness. The city truly never does sleep.

Broadway - It's Only a Play

via

We both wanted to see It's Only A Play after seeing the cast. Morgan wanted to see Megan Mullally and I wanted to see Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick together. The play was (and still is) in previews, so that was fun. It was a funny show, but I'm not sure if the cast made the show or if the show will be able to hold up with a different set of actors. We bought our tickets at full price ahead of time, but you can always try the TKTS Booth in Times Square for day-of rush tickets and reduced prices.

Central Park Tour

When completed, the tall building will be the tallest residential building in the city.


Literary Walk

Literary Walk, the only straight part of Central Park.
Many of the Elm trees were destroyed in Hurricane Sandy


Angel of the Waters

Angel of the Waters

Hans Christian Anderson statue

Duck pond

See the hawk's nest over the middle, upper window? Read about the controversy over it here.

San Remo Apartments

Alice in Wonderland Sculpture


San Remo Apartments

Turtle Pond

Belvedere Castle and Shakespeare in the Park Theater




The Dakota, where John Lennon was shot and killed.

Tavern on the Green (on the very bottom)
Central Park was amazing. It is free to enter, wander, nap, and tan. I mentioned earlier that we had walked through it to get to the Upper East Side, but the park is on such a large scale that we used a Groupon to purchase an $11 walking tour. Our tour guide, Deb, was incredibly knowledgeable, funny, upbeat, and interesting. I think we would both recommend reserving a walking (not bike as you can't ride your bike in the park) tour. The 2-hour tour, was worth every minute and every dollar.

Now on to a few things we paid for that we wouldn't pay for again.

Yankees Game


I know. This seems crazy. But the game was so boring. Now, I am a baseball fan. I know, understand, and love the game. I have been to many MLB games, I've shared about my baseball love, so I didn't expect to get to the game... a Yankees game... and be disappointed. We left in the 7th inning because it just was... blah. It's all about Derek Jeter and there's nothing about the history or nostalgia that I thought there would be. I wanted it to be the old Yankee Stadium. In the end, the Yankees came back to win it. But even knowing that I wouldn't pay the $50 to go to another game, and wouldn't change leaving in the 7th.

Museum of the City of New York


We purchased a Groupon to the Museum of the City of New York, because it promised breakfast and a talk at 10 AM. So we walked over (across Central Park) to the museum and waited until it opened. Ate a bagel by ourselves. Watched a video about the history of Manhattan (that was informative, but the room was freezing cold) instead of hearing some folks talk about the city. The exhibits were... boring and few. Other than the fact that we went to the museum before we visited Teddy Roosevelt's birthplace so we could see some of the things the video mentioned in his neighborhood, it was a complete waste of time.

American Museum of Finance

Hamilton poised for his duel with Burr.
We also used a Groupon for tickets to the American Museum of Finance. We had originally wanted to tour the Federal Reserve (which is free) but tickets were already booked to the maximum when we went to book ours. We didn't have very much time to tour the museum before it closed, but regardless it was just boring. You had to call a number on your cell phone and punch in a code to learn about the items on display. Just put it on a plaque!

We weren't too bummed with the things that we wished we would have known would be boring because we spent well under $15 combined for four tickets. It's more about the time that we can't get back from them.

By far the greatest experience of all was taking the Staten Island Ferry (free) out and back at night on September 11th. The opportunity to see the tribute lights in their full glory was incredible. I can tell you that the lights really do reach heaven.



There you have it... New York in four days! Have a great weekend!

{Travel} NYC's Best Things Are Free

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's true, New York is an expensive place. Hotels are expensive. Taxis are expensive. Food is expensive. Where does it end? But one of the best things about New York is that there is so much to do that is ... FREE! Morgan and I filled our days with free things, topped off with one paid activity per day. It was a great way to save a bit of money.

The very best free thing to do? Walk. Every where you walk, remember to look up. The architecture and buildings are just breathtaking. Join along on this photographic walk through FREE New York City!

National September 11th Museum and Memorial



Of course it is free to walk by the newly opened 1 World Trade Center. The sheer size is incredible. The memorial is open to the public and beautifully peaceful. I will always return here on future visits to New York. The museum has an entry fee, however, you may be able to get free admission (as Morgan and I did) on Tuesday's after 5 PM. Visit their website for more information. 

Financial District



The exact spot where George Washington took his first Oath of Office as President.

Trinity Church, home to numerous famous grave-sites, including Alexander Hamilton's (in the foreground).
Central Park






Entry to the park is free. We paid for a tour and both agree that it was well worth it. I'll share more pictures tomorrow!

"I Know That Building..."

Empire State Building




Grand Central Terminal


The Chrysler Building


Grand Central Terminal & The Chrysler Building


The Flatiron Building


St. Patrick's Cathedral



The Church is undergoing major renovation, but it is still open to the public and well worth a stop. It is right across the street from Rockefeller Center and down the street from Grand Central Terminal.

President Theodore Roosevelt's Birthplace



The tour is free and it's right down the street from the Flatiron Building!

Amazing Architecture








See? There are plenty of things to do that won't cost you a single copper penny! Also, many museums don't actually have a fee to enter, it is just a suggested donation. Don't feel bad to just pay $5 or if it's later in the day, to just walk in (thanks, mom for the tip!). Of course there are dozens of other things to do (walk the Brooklyn Bridge, visit the HiLine Garden, walk through Little Italy and Chinatown...)! 

You can visit NYC without breaking the bank! If you have been to New York, what is your favorite free thing to do?
 
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